Friday, March 5, 2021
The Battle for Middle Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings
This is the last of the major LOTR commentaries that I hadn't read. Somehow Lent during the time of Covid, social division, and angst seemed the right time for this and, indeed, it did prove to be very inspirational.
Instead of zeroing in on themes and then pulling examples from throughout the text, Rutledge takes the unusual tactic of working her way through the book from beginning to end, commenting along the way on the links between the book and Christian themes. It is very effective because we can see the themes develop and grow as the story itself grows in complexity. There are many good insights that open up the book even further for the attentive reader.
As others have commented, it isn't a perfect work. There are some points that are often repeated many times, often unnecessarily since the sort of person reading this book is already steeped in LOTR. (Also, what difference does it make that Tolkien didn't like Shakespeare? And why do we have to be told that three times?) I also didn't agree with all of the author's conclusions, though admittedly there weren't a lot of points I took umbrage with. Just enough to annoy me every so often.
None of that takes away from the fact that this is a really good commentary and I wholeheartedly recommend it.